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Before I introduce our speaker for tonight, I'd like to remind you all that today
we actually did something that as physicists hadn't been done ever
and that's *** neutrons together very high energy
and we have a couple of the physicists that are involved in the experiments are here, and my Associate Dean who is a physicist, Elliott Cheu,
we should congratulate him because he's one of those that built one of the detectors.
So a funny thing happened to me on the way here. actually.
somebody gave me a piece of paper that sort of sounds
like a plant.
This gentleman which I don't know can stand up and say that he wasn't a plant.
He has some thoughts and questions.
He has some questions that up he would me to answer.
He asked the question will there be additional lectures this summer or this fall.
Of course for this lecture series there is one more lecture next week
that has to do with ethics and our brain.
Then it says in here, Can you direct us to new information resulting in ongoing
Are there journals or University publications that we need to have subscriptions to?
And will there be future lectures on age dementia and how to slow down its process?
The reason I say it's sort of like a plant is because starting next week on the third (of April)
in fact, were opening Flandrau Planetarium again.
The Flandrau Planetarium will be the portal of science and technology to all of you
to all of us
So what we need
from anybody that's interested are these two things.
To make sure that you do sign up on those papers that they give when coming into the
so that we can send you information
of this sort.
Flandrau will have a web site which will be sending out information to anybody about exciting
things that we're doing at the University of Arizona
and I hope that you will allow us to send you this information so that you can
join us with
the exciting opportunities and we'll have Flandrau. The Planetarium will be open
we have a beautiful mineral collection showing right now
but this will be changing continuously and importantly 0:02:43:000,0:02:45.750 the web site will be sending you information of theist sort.
Thanks for the questions.
Again, I would like to thank our underwriters for this lecture series,
The Arizona Daily Star, *** Communications,
Bob Davis, Galileo Circle, Godat Design,
Thomas and Cande Grogan, Raytheon, Research Corp for Science Advancement, UniSource Energy.
Without their support we would be charging all of you. [applause]
So we've heard in this lecture series about the brain a little bit. how it's all wired, the plasticity of the brain.
We've heard a little bit about how children learn,
We had lecture in which we we figured out
how we are wired because of evolution.
Today I am really excited to have Al Kaszniak, who is the
tell us a little bit about metamemory.
Al Kaszniak received his Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Illinois
and he completed an internship in clinical
psychology at Rush Medical Center in Chicago.
He is currently head of the department, as I mentioned,
Director of Clinical Neuropsychology, director of the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium
and Professor in the Department of Psychology, Neurology, and Psychiatry at the
University of Arizona
So, if your foot hurts,
anything else you can see Al and he'll probably fix it.
His research has focused on the neuro-psychology of Alzheimer's Disease
age related neurological disorders, consciousness,
memory, and the monitoring of self-emotion.
Doctor Kaszniak has been an adviser to various national institutes and agency's concerned
with aging and Alzheimer's Disease.
He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a Fellow the Association for
We are indeed lucky to have Al here tonight
to give us a lecture
and we're equally as lucky to have him as a colleague here at the University of Arizona.
It's a pleasure working with Al.
Please welcome Al to this evening's lecture.
Thank you Joaquin for the kind words of introduction.
Thank you all for being here. It is so gratifying to see so many of you,
many old friends, young friends
and what we all hope will be new friends
for the College of Science.
I'm going to be talking
But before I define what that is
I would like to start by telling you
a little bit about a clinical mystery
that first presented itself to me
in the middle 1980s.
Not too long after we had started our memory disorders clinic,
that I had co-directed
over at University Medical Center.
The mystery starts off with a patient we will arbitrarily call M.T.
who was referred to us for consultation
to see whether we could assist with diagnosis and in the planning of treatment
and this individual had a very severe memory
When I met him in the lobby
I introduced myself. I then went into the examining room and 15 minutes later he was brought
had no idea that we had met
already - so quite severe
And he seemed very aware
of that impairment.
He could complain
to me about it
when I would present him with various memory tests that we do in the clinic
he was able to say "You know that's exactly the kind of thing
I have a really hard time with I know I'm going to do really terrible."
And he did.
an individual we will call patient A. D.
had an equally severe memory impairment.
Same situation, met her in the lobby,
into the examining room, didn't recognize we had met before
but she seemed quite unaware
of the severity of her impairment.
when I asked her why she was there to see me, talked about something irrelevant
and when we started the testing
she would frequently comment, "Oh my memory has always always been really good. This is going to be way too
simple for me."
And then, of course, would have enormous difficulty with it.
Some frustration from time to time while doing it
but upon completing the task seemed to have no awareness
that, in fact,
it revealed a very very compromised memory.
So, the question these two people posed to me was,
with equally severe memory impairment
why are they so different
in their apparent awareness
of that impairment.
And a bigger question for me that arose was
if memory is a function of brain processes as we've been hearing about in this
then how does the brain predict its own future activity?
How does the brain know what it's going to be able to do, remember, etc.,
at some point in the future?
It's the neuro-scientific area of metamemory research
that tends to answer those questions.
So let's begin with a couple of quick definitions.
The dictionary definition of memory
is the mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience
and the act, or instance,
In contrast, metamemory is defined as knowledge about one's own memory capabilities and contents,
and knowledge about strategies
that can aid
Lest you think that this big mouthful, metamemory,
suggests that this is something arcane and that only nerdy scientists care about
each of you utilizes metamemory
on a daily basis.
So how many of you drove here
most of you I suspect
anticipated finding your car.
How do you know that?
How do you know that you're going to be able to locate your car?
I go to the airport and park before a trip,
what I know with great confidence is
I won't remember where it is
when I get back.
So I'm going to write it down.
That's metamemory at work.
That's the process by which
the brain is making predictions
about its own future processes.
such as this harried young faculty member,
how does this person know
when the arcane text has been studied sufficiently
and he'll be able to remember it the following morning in a lecture
and we can now give himself some well-deserved rest?
We utilize metamemory
when we're studying all of you who are students a former students out there
you've had this kind of experience, right?
From the book, through the head, gone forever.
But you are often aware of that at the time and what do you do?
You catch yourself, you go back
and you re-read.
or you think about it in a different way. You might recast it,
you use some kind of a strategy
that enables you to remember it better.
And it's the ability
that it's not getting in
and ability to select a strategy that will help get it in
that's a part of this thing we call metamemory
Now that second individual in the clinical mystery I told you about, patient A. D.,
turned out to have Alzheimer's Disease.
Terrible illness, as I think as most of you know.
It's quite prevalent
about 5.3 million of us in the United States have it.
Projections are that by the year 2050 that number will triple.
Very, very disturbing.
It is age associated. The older we get the higher our risk developing it.
It's presently irreversible even though many of us are working very *** trying to find
a prevention and cure
and it's a the major cause
of this syndrome of dementia by which we mean
in 2 or more areas of mental functioning
one of them typically being memory.
Now if we take a look
as if we are gazing
from the side of the head and we were all Superman or Superwoman we could gaze
inside the skin in the skull
what we would see
is the brain
in which there are certain landmarks so here right behind the eyes
we see an area called the frontal lobes
and right behind that
the parietal lobes and underneath that
the temporal lobes
and behind that
the occipital lobes.
No other similar looking on both sides
two separate hemisphere's
underneath it the cerebellum
and then connected
on the bottom
the brain stem
the spinal cord.
Ao I want you to
keep in mind that orientation because I'll try to utilize most of my images
from that same kind of angle.
If we were to further tune up our X-RAY vision
what we would see penetrating deeper within the brain
is that there are some structures
that lie underneath this
outer most part of the brain, the cortex, which means bark
the outer most covering of a tree
and a very important one for memory
is this structure shown right here
it's bilateral meeting there's one of them on each side.
And it was this structure
that was quite damage
in the first person in that clinic a mystery that I told you about.
He had sustained to a cardiac arrest
his brain was deprived of oxygen for a critical period of time
leaving a certain nerve cells within that structure 0:13:01.660,0:13:03.740 permanently damaged.
But in a circumscribed way, other areas were not
patient A. D. who seemed so unaware of her memory impairment
also has damage to this structure,
microscopic damage that's a part of Alzheimer's Disease,
but in addition
as this progresses -
here we're looking from the side in this time we're looking at the middle surface
of that right side of the brain
gazing in from the left -
what you can see is in the pre-clinical stages while things are still mild can't
really be confidently diagnosed
is relatively circumscribed to that temporal lobe
where the hippocampus is located deep within
and a little bit of the bottom of that frontal lobe
but as the illness progresses from mild to even more severe stages
increasing amounts of the brain affected.
To only the areas responsible for processing basic sensory information
and controlling movement
that are left relatively
So that's a widespread amount of brain that's affected by this illness.
One aspect of that
is making the contribution
of impairing the person's awareness
of their memory impairment.
Why are people with this illness different in that way
than the person I just previously described
who had the cardiac arrest
to that memory important hippocampus.
In order to address that question
and look at the relationship between damage in the brain
and metamemory difficulty
it's necessary to bring metamemory into the laboratory.
So how is it that we might do that?
What we decided to do
is utilize a number of different kinds of tasks, finally arriving
at the one we rely on most which is called
which attempts to tap into this phenomenon
Feeling-of-knowing defined as a subjective state in which the person is trying to remember something
that they believe they know
but can't now retrieve.
Back in 1890, William James
one of the fathers of scientific psychology
had this to say
about feeling-of-knowing as it occurs in the tip-of-the-tongue
It's "a gap that is intensely active
a sort of wraith of the name
is in it
beckoning us in a given direction
making us at moments tingle
with the sense of our closeness
and then letting us sink back without the longed-for term."
For for those of you who are similar to myself are members of the gray hair persuasion
you may have noticed
that this increases with frequency
as we get older
manifesting this feeling of knowing
so what kind of a task can construct to get at this?
We us a kind of verbal memory task in which there were three different phases.
The first is the study phase.
We present the individual with a set
of sentences constructed such that
the very last word of the sentence is of low frequency. In other words
it's not very easily predictable
from the first part of the sentence.
So that people can't simply guess
what the correct last word might be
and we give several such sentences in this study or learning phase.
In the next phase of it
we then show the individual the sentence stem
she showed her friend for example a new card
ask the person to recall
what's the correct completion of that sentence.
Following that answer
we ask the person to give a retrospective confidence rating. In other words
how certain are you
that you gave the correct answer? From extremely uncertain
to extremely certain.
And then for those sentences that they don't correctly complete
we ask them to give the critical feeling of knowing rating
and what we're requesting here
is the individual to predict
that later when I show them and multiple choices for what that completing last word might be
they'll be able to identify the correct one
and so pure guess
low probably or high probability of correctly recognizing it.
Then finally the recognition task itself
where we again provide that sentence stem
along with these multiple choices
for the variable of interest here
we're looking at the feeling of knowing accuracy, defined as the concordance
between the feeling-of-knowing prediction
and the actual recognition memory success.
Okay. Reasonable and straightforward
So what did we find in relationship to Alzheimer's Disease.
Studying the number of individuals and comparing them to
their spouse caregivers
we found that
for both retrospective confidence ratings
as well as different ways of
measuring were applying a metric
to this feeling of knowing the accuracy and both of those instances
the persons with Alzheimer's Disease were less accurate
than their spouses,
documenting that there is
a metamemory impairment
that's associated with this illness.
As we began to do work in this area and study some other neurologic groups
a number of other investigators across the world were similarly getting interested in this
and by 2005 there had been enough studies
that have been published
for us to do
a review of
what has been learned
from this area of investigation.
One of my former graduate students, Jasmine Pano [?]
reviewed that literature
and what we found was that in addition to Alzheimer's Disease.
metamemory was being
confirmed in the laboratory also
in human immunodeficiency virus infection
when it involves the brain
in multiple sclerosis
when it's not just in the spinal court but also in the brain.
Huntington's Disease, a genetic
disease that involves both a movement disorder and
a very severe memory impairment,
typically caused by chronic alcohol abuse and thiamine deficiency
and traumatic brain injury
particularly will be more severe when the individual had a period of unconsciousness
for a while
so what is it that all of these apparently diversity indices
share in common they have different causes or ideologies, they manifest somewhat differently
all of them manifesting
each of them
involves some damage to
these front lobes of the brain particularly these two front most part of it
that we call the prefrontal area.
Well that's a pretty big expansive real estate
in your brain, is it not?
Are there particular areas within it, or structures within it,
that are most important?
now in order to ask that question we have to move away
from these indices that affect the brain in a more generalized or more diffuse
and start looking
at neurologic disorders that
a very circumscribed part of the brain.
And so the syndrome of course
that we went to
Here one particular
cause of stroke, that being a blood clot,
that travels along an artery until
the diameter of the artery gets sufficiently expanded and it blocks the flow
in the area of the brain that is being fed
by that vessel
is deprived of oxygen and nutrients
and that tissue
That is a stroke and another kind of stroke is when there's bleeding in the brain but
for simplicity sake we'll pretend that
this is the major kind and in fact
this was the major cause for most of the individuals
that we studied.
So it took us about 3 years
to accumulate enough individuals that were willing to volunteer for study
who had this circumscribed damage
to the frontal lobe, to the front part
the of the brain.
And even though these individuals did not have obvious memory impairment like the
people that I was describing
in the so-called clinical mystery,
they had impairment in their metamemory that is they were quite poor
what they would later to be able to recognize.
It confirmed an association
with damage to the frontal lobes
but as of yet we don't know very much more about where within this expanse of the frontal lobes
the critical location of damage might be.
So here we went to
so-called structural neuro-imaging
magnetic resonance imaging in particular
and here in schematic we've got a cut-away view, so we've opened up the side of the
you can see the individual
lying on that table
inside of this large magnet
with radio frequency coils and receding coils
the combination of
extraordinarily creative physics
and computer science
an expert engineering
has resulted in a technology
that lets us see in a three-dimensional way
within the brain.
the signals that are being picked up
are very sensitive to the molecular composition of the tissue in this strong magnetic field
able to differentiate
living healthy tissue
from damaged tissue
also enables us
as shown here
to take different slices of the brain. Here we've gone from one side
of the head
moving toward the center
moving then beyond the center
continuing on to the other side
of the head
and finally getting to the
outer most part
of the skull.
We can also visualize in other
directions so here starting at the back of the head
seeing the cerebellum
the ears will soon begin to show - here they are -
we move increasingly forward the brain stem
the fluid filled spaces within the brain
we continue to move forward
and we see eventually
the eyeballs manifesting
and way up in the front most part of the brain.
of the 0:24:34.179,0:24:36.880 contents of the skull, the cranial contents,
in a way that provides us
a lot of information
about areas that are damaged.
And what it allows this thing to do - here we're looking from the top of the brain down -
the nose would be
up at the front part,
these are different slices from
so fairly far down in the brain
far up until we get to this top one
and the black areas show us where the damage
So we can assume
from the information from those slices together
with the aid of the computer
we can reconstruct
a three dimensional image
that allows us then
the different brains of each of the individuals
in other words put them onto a common scale, put them on to
idealized brain so that all of the areas are located in the same place and ask the
for those people
who show the most severe
metamemory impairment, in other words who are the poorest
in this prediction
of their later recognition memory performance
What is in common between them?
Where's there overlap in the damage?
And what we found
was that that overlap
is in this right
right side of the brain -
here we've cut away
the from on the left hemisphere so we can see inside the brain - we've done that
with computer reconstruction
So it's in there right
middle, or medial,
of the brain.
that this area is playing an important role.
in these metamemory processes.
But, that's one kind of a test, this verbal feeling-of-knowing task.
Does that metamemory impairment extend to other
beyond the verbal domain and perhaps to include faces?
I don't think any of you would quible with the statement
that memory for faces
it was an important faculty
something we rely on
every day. It's how we know
someone is familiar.
But imagine what would happen,
you gentleman out there,
you thought that the face of a stranger
was your wife
and acted accordingly
Well, your face might be in trouble.
That's got to hurt, don't you think?
So we constructed a task
faces of individuals that are well known, in the media, sports, that sort of thing
for the retrospective confidence task analogous to the verbal one I talked about
we showed a series of these faces sequentially.
People were given 8 multiple-choice names to choose from. Asked who is this person?
And then they made a retrospective confidence judgment -
how confident are they that they are correct.
It might look something like this.
I'm just going to give you three choices to make it easy - it's late
Who's that? Uma Thurman, Okay?
Very popular in the movies recently.
And then you'd be asked to make that that confidence judgment; how confident are you that you chose
the correct name?
For the feeling-of-knowing task
we ask you to actually name the individual
and then if you can't
come up with the name
we ask you again how confidential you are that you'll be able to the name the person if you're given a multiple
the face is very familiar to you so we have some that are famous famous not so famous
and then there's a recognition memory
task at the end so that we can compute
this concordance of correspondents, how accurate is their prediction?
So who's that?
fewer of you knew.
who that is.
Most of you who do are my age or older
What? You don't watch re-runs of the Parent Trap?
That's Hayley Mills.
As in our previous study
what we observed
with frontal damage
who had the lowest feeling-of-knowing accuracy
Showed this region of overlap of damage
within this so-called ventromedial or lower middle area
area of the front lobe.
is the chief participant
something that provides a necessary
to the way in which the brain makes predictions about its
But we don't know, really
whether it's that area or
connecting fibers that are passing through it
the damaged brain doesn't allow us to disentangle those two possibilities.
So we then moved
another technology utilizing the same magnetic resonance imaging machinery that I just showed
but this time
a blood oxygen level dependent signal.
Now, what that reflects
is blood flow
neuron brain areas
that are metabolically active.
When an area is doing work
it is more metabolically active it is requiring more blood, more oxygen, more nutrients.
So that allows us to image brain areas that are at work during particular stimulus or
and also it allows us to visualize quite small regions
of the brain
at a level of resolution or ability to visualize an area
much more fine grain than we'd be able to infer from looking at
different areas of damage.
So this gives you
a kind of cartoon
of how that works.
You'll notice if you watch this
that when there's the simple cross-haired patterns
the activity is more toward the back
and when it switches to this animate kind of object
more reflected in activity
in these more lateral
or side more most portions.
This is an area of the brain that tends to code for very simple kind of visual lines
the other area
is one that is specialized
for detecting biological motion - motion of beings.
In the technology of functional magnetic resonance imaging
what we are doing is always contrasting
two different kinds of conditions
as I've shown you here.
So that we can determine
what is unique keeping everything else constant, it's all visual stimuli
the same environment
keeping everything else constant
the variable of critical interest.
And in our case
it's going to be
memory self-awareness self-prediction.
So again we used faces as the task
we asked "Who is that?"
Most of you know Marilyn Monroe .
But we can't ask you to say it in the scanner
because what happens when you talk
is that your head moves
the brain image gets blurry.
This motion artifact
we don't want that
we use a simple 3 button mouse that the person is holding onto
in this scanner
and they make a choice with one of 3 button presses
of either they know the name, they've retrieved it successfully;
they can't retrieve it but they have a feeling that they know it;
or they simply don't know who that is at all.
And of course afterwards we do a recognition task just to make sure that
they're accurate and since these are healthy individuals it's not that hard of the task.
up well above 90%.
What we do then is based upon their response
after all of this
blood oxygen dependent
information is collected
we've group that information according to those responses so we can contrast
what's associated with
what's associated with
So who's that?
A few of you know Rob Lowe,
somewhat less famous
unless you read the tabloids and we don't want to go there.
How about this person?
None of you know? Me either.
That's because while
this individual was blessed with a face that looks like it could be famous
she is not.
When we looked at the appropriate contrast or comparison what we found
again as we saw
with the focal damage studies
with this right frontal
as well as another structure called the anterior cingulate cortex
right in the same region.
First of all look at how much finer of the grain
greater specificity we can have about
where the critical
region might be. But convergence of information
with the focal damage studies
now that was quite different
from what we saw to be associated with successful retrieval
of the face names
in which the
that's what's shown in the crosshairs here,
and some of these parietal areas
that again remember
that's where the hippocampus is, that's that very memory important structure.
So memory and metamemory
within the brain.
Not where those functions live
but structures that contribute critically
to the carrying out of those processes.
A number of other studies have
activation within this
medial prefrontal area
and they primarily included tasks that included memory for self-traits -
I give you a series of adjectives and I ask you whether
either like or not like you
and also tasks that ask you to make plans
or to formulate aspirations
for the future.
So we may conclude that this medial prefrontal cortex
is participating in a kind of computation
of the self
that which maintains the continuity
of our identity across time remembering our past
And using what we know from memory
to construct scenarios
and make predictions about
So it's a way
that the brain can weave together
its knowledge of our preferences, our values our ethnicity
our beliefs our possessions our occupations - all those things
that are part of self
Now it turns out that that computed self, as I'll call it
is also used by our brain to simulate
the experience of others
and predict their behavior.
so in a classical task that's called the Sally-Anne test
it goes as follows.
Their salary on the left, there's Anne on the right,
Sally puts her ball in the basket
she then goes away leaves the scene
and while she's gone and moves the ball from the basket to the box
the critical question is then
where will Sally
look for ball?
well if you are an adult or a child over about
the age of 4
what are you going to say?
Okay. The group said that she was going to look for it
in that basket because that's where Sally put it.
You are able to utilize
that simulation capacity
and transforming it into what is the perspective of the other
would be like.
If you're 3 years old
what you're going to say is she's going to look in the box because that's what
you the participants saw
and you're not able to make that
When that kind of task is done in the brain scanner
what is found is that
this area, this time we've reversed the brain so now the the nose is facing to your right
in all these images
that same area of
the medial prefrontal cortex is activated in this so-called theory of mind or
mentalizing or mind reading task
and that is the same area along with something a little further back that for right now
we're not going to talk about
but some areas activated when we remember
and when we
project into the future or imagine the future.
So this has been referred to as an interconnected
medial temporal network
making use of this medial or middle temporal structure hippocampus
and those areas that it's the most densely connected to again, a kind of self-generating stimulating
Very recently it was discovered
that if we look at what the brain is doing at rest
when individuals are not giving any task to perform
it's the same
that are activated.
What's going on?
What are we doing when we're at rest?
We're not listening
We're computing the self.
"Ah, I forgot to do that today. I gotta get up tomorrow early
and finish that and i'll see what she said probably mean she doesn't like me very well."
yadda yadda yadda
me me me. Computing the self.
Computing the self is very useful as we've seen
from making predictions
you're likely to do in the future and what others are likely to do in the future and
what others are likely to be experiencing
but it can take care of the way, right?
So, as Caravaggio
in his famous painting Narcissus
that kind of activation of the self
can lead to self-absorption.
Narcissus gazing fondly at his image in the water.
What can we do about that?
Self preoccupation is annoying to friends and family.
You probably don't want to do it all that much.
The brain is a limited
channel capacity processor, it can't do too many things at the same time
and if it's computing the self
it's not paying attention to what's here right now.
We're going to miss a lot.
We're going to miss things
that other people are saying to us - my wife is in the audience she knows about this.
We're going to miss
some of the things
they're going on around us.
So what are we going to do about that?
Is there some
we can learn
to help us disengage from that self-focus?
Well for a number of thousands of years now ancient traditions
have used the kind of mental training
a practice that
to train their attention
focusing upon some particular object very often the breath, it's convenient you carry around
with you all the time,
that me me starts to be generated
polls the attention away
returning back to the focus
over and over
and over again..
And the claim that is made
is enabling of
a more fluid disengagement
So, does science have anything to say
The recent study by a friend and colleague
when you give individuals
words or non-words that you flash before them
the words tend to activate
if you will self-system or default system.
Here you can see that
medial frontal area, some of those more back or posterior areas
so those words create associations and those associations are referent to the self.
But when they look to add individuals who Zen meditate with 3 or more years
of practice experience
and they studied
the actual time course
of these blood oxygen level responses what they found was Zen meditators showed
the meditation naive individual shown in blue
that in each of those areas
The Zen meditators where returning to baseline
As if the brian were saying "yes" what they're saying
they're letting go
of that self-activation more readily, they're more fluid and disengaging
the word is gone
back to rest.
number of other studies
have similarly suggested
with that kind of practice
there is increasing skill
but being able to disengage
that computed self
as my granddaughter is doing here to
her first experience of hearing a rooster crow -
to the environment
So I think
we've got some hope
that neuroscience not only provides us with interesting things to talk about on a
Wednesday night when other stuff is too expensive to get admission to
something that in our 21st century
where science provides so much of the guidance
for our lives
a kind of bridge
to traditions to practices
they're quite ancient
but that may provide us with
of being able to quiet down
that self preoccupation
attend to the world in which there is
Thank you all so much for being here this evening.
My father died at 95 with almost no recognition
of what he ate for lunch
what had happened the day before
when I said "Do you remember any John Keats?"
the week before he died
he actually picked a verse of 'Nightingale'
there's about mortality and he would smile when he saw
numbers on license plates
that had square roots and interesting mathematics.
Do you have any insights into this?
We know each other so I'm first tempted to say that your father is just weird. [laughter]
I may have a more informed answer
about that and
that is that
in these progressive
and you didn't say it but perhaps he had Alzheimer's Disease,
there are a number of
brain disorders that can create this
One of the things we've found, and i'll say probably a good 25 years or so ago
is that memories that were established long ago,
and particularly those that we've had some occasion to rehearse,
a favorite poet is something that he had occasion to bring to mind
these are memories that seem to remain relatively intact
for a longer period.
Something that is of particular interest to the person
mathematical symbols - something that's reminiscent of a favorite hobby
that will stay preserved for a longer period of time.
It's the day to day experience that may not make reference to those
preferred but familiar themes
that seems to go the earliest. Thank you.
When you describe what you
what you call the whole system,
the memory system,
does it disturb
does it make noise
that stops the brain from
as effectively as it should be?
So the question is whether this default network that I mentioned is active
Is this something that gets in the way
of establishing another memories? And the answer I think is yes
the brain is a limited
and it cannot process many things at the same time
and so if the tension
is being drawn to
the kind of of mental chatter - I mentioned contemplative disciplines may refer to
this as 'monkey mind'
jumping from one branch to another one thing to another
continuously after the been continuously distracted
and so they are now a number of studies - some completed some ongoing -
that are demonstrating that
these kinds of
mental training practices, attention training practices,
even for relatively short periods of time, an 8 week
kind of intensive practice
makes a significant difference in attention
and in encoding information into memory.
In the case of amnesia is the metamemory affected?
The question is, in the case of amnesia is metamemory affected?
It depends on the kind of amnesia.
So in the clinical mysteries that I started off with
the very first person has an amnesia or an
due to circumscribed or limited
damage to these hippocampal bodies.
That person does not have a metamemory impairment.
But when the damage extends beyond
particularly into this
middle frontal area
that's when metamemory is also impaired.
I worked with many people who have had severe dementia and also Alzheimer's
and most of them, before they died,
had moments of lucidity
where they recognized people and they spoke and I was wondering how that could be.
The question is that she works with people with Alzheimer's Disease
and other causes of dementia.
And many of them before they die
have moments of lucidity.
of being clear, apparently.
It's a wonderful question
and one that we don't have
and the answer to.
There's a very moving story time that some of you may have had come across of an individual
with Alzheimer's Disease who
seemed just abysmally bad, was no longer recognizing any family members
not able to do very much at all for himself
within literally hours
before he died
said to his wife
and passed away. How does that happen?
What goes on?
What rallies in the brain?
What changes happen
as we approach that
great mystery of death?
We don't know. Wonderful question.
I've been, from time to time,
appalled or overwhelmed by the vastness of my own memory.
yet to find
the explanations for this on the personal level.
I tend to lean toward
quantum physical processes to explain
the depth of it,
the expensiveness of it
the sense of the micro-cosmos of the medieval consciousness.
so he is very impressed with the vastness,
how big his memory is. Men often think their memory is bigger
memory is bigger than it actually is [laughter]
It's an optical illusion. [laughter]
I'm sorry, you gave me an opening [laughter]
It's a wonderful question.
And what I would suggest is that
we are likely to discover
we are likely to discover in years hence
that our models
of how the brain operates,
that wonderful discussion that Dr. Tolbert
provided you, those are our current models about what's really important
in the brain.
Speed of neural transmission when
these other cells
insulate and cover
the brain cells.
But there are other things
that's good one.
A colleague of mine, Stuart Hameroff,
works very hard and on
a theoretical perspective in which quantum events in the brain
thought until not so long ago
to be theoretically impossible because the brain is a very warm environment in these
things usually occur and super cold
kind of temperatures
more recent discovery suggesting
and that these phenomenon may play an important role
in consciousness. Bby the way, for those of you who are interested in these very
big questions these philosophic questions, these questions make contact with
theoretic physics and
other deep science dimensions
there is a conference in Tucson coming up
toward the science of consciousness it's going to occur in April
Dr. Hameroff is now the director of our Center for Conscious to Study, something
I used to
it's great fun, it's soup to nuts É
Dean Ruiz: Before this turns into vaudeville, thank you so much